Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Is It Easter?

English: Easter, old greec salut Deutsch: Oste...

I saw one of those I-need-to-educate-you-silly-Christians things on Facebook the other day. It talked about some fertility goddess few people have heard of and that it (she?) was what Easter is really based on.

In that comment, even the word Easter was supposed to have come from that goddess’s name. The question is also asked in that comment, “or did you think eggs and bunnies had anything to do with the resurrection?”

I answered (you didn’t think I could keep my mouth shut, did you?) that maybe the proper name shouldn’t be ‘Easter’. (I’ve never actually seen it in the Bible any more than I’ve seen the word ‘Christmas’.) I even did a search online to see if I could find where the word came from. I found a lot of sermons, but finding the actual origin is a little hard.

The best I could find was

Easter: An Early Celebration of Christ’s Resurrection
Another idea involves the history of the Frankish church (Germans who settled in Rome during the fifth century). Their the celebration of Christ’s resurrection included the word alba, which means white (the color of the robes worn during the resurrection festival). Alba also meant sunrise. So when the name of the festival was translated into German, the sunrise meaning, ostern, was selected, likely in error. One theory is that Ostern is the origin of the word Easter.

 You can read more about it if you want.

The eggs and bunnies? They represent new beginnings. A brand new life–which is what we have when we’re in Christ. A life without blemish. Without stain. Without sin. Washed in The Blood, we’re whiter than snow, because Jesus paid the price for our sins when he died on the cross and rose again three days later.

Maybe we should just call it Resurrection Sunday.

It doesn’t matter what we call it. What matters is that you’ve accepted Christ. He died for my sin and yours.

Do you live for Him?

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Happy Resurrection Day (aka Easter)

Easter is actually the name of a fertility goddess, so I’m going with Resurrection Sunday.

♪♫ In your Easter bonnet with all the frills upon it

you’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade . . . ♫♪

Did your mama sing that song this time of year? Mine sang a lot, and this time of year she liked to sing Easter Bonnet.

We sang this is Miss Thelma’s music class, too. (Miss Thelma was reported to have a glass eye and a dying husband. She called everyone–student, parent and principal–“Honey Love.”) She even explained what a rotogravure is. Or was.

Did the Easter Bunny visit you when you were a kid? He visited me . . . a time or two. Not like I see now days, of course. It was much more fun getting to dye eggs.

Mama boiled dozens of eggs (with six kids she needed a lot) bought the dye tablets and we dyed with the scent of cider vinegar filling our heads until “the world looked level.”

Then on Easter, we’d take turns hiding and finding the eggs.

I asked my walking buddy if they did Easter eggs when she was a kid. Absolutely, her family did. Her parents hid the eggs before they got up on Easter morning, and the kids would rush out to find them. Then they peeled and ate them.

That kind of shocked me. For us, Easter eggs were hidden and found over and over until they cracked, were broken or lost. (When one was lost and found several weeks later . . . blech!)

Remember wearing Easter bonnets and white gloves? (They didn’t stay white very long when I wore them.) We had can-cans to make our skirts full and rustle-y. And since we always went to church–on Easter, too–we had Easter dinner at home. That usually meant with dad’s parents and family, but sometimes Mom’s side would go to church with us on Easter and stay for Sunday dinner.

And remember when everyone had an Easter Lilly? Sometimes we filled the church with them, other times we only saw the ones that someone sent as a gift. Grandmother planted hers in the garden when it quit blooming, and sometimes it would live and bloom again.

This evening we’re celebrating birthdays–BBs and mine. BB requested roast, mashed potatoes and gravy. I’m fixing the roast and gravy. This year since I have three adult sons with wives, I’ll have help fixing it! (Yay!)

For birthday cake we’re having strawberry shortcake. (Oh, yeah! Love that SSC.) We do it the easy way. We buy the dessert cups and fill them with strawberries, topped with whipped cream.

I don’t know if there’ll be any Easter baskets, but there might be a surprise or two. 🙂

I hope you have a happy, Spirit led, family filled Resurrection Sunday!

Ps: Without looking, do you know what a rotogravure is?


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☺ My Real Birthday ☺

Yesterday was my birthday. My Christian birthday. For most of my life, I didn’t remember the date of our baptism, so since it was one year on Easter, I celebrated every Easter, no matter what the date was.

Finally, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I ran over to the church on a weekday and asked the secretary if she could find it.

She did. It read, “Mrs. Gary Shay, baptised March 29, 19–.

“Who wrote that?” I asked, feeling a little irritated. I’ve never understood being called Mrs. G-Man when my name’s Susan, and I don’t mind explaining. “That’s not my name, and it sure wasn’t my name when I accepted Christ!”

Naturally, the secretary had an explanation so sweet that I shrugged and let her shove me out the door. (Joking. I went to high school with this sweet woman, and she never gives anyone the bum’s rush.)

Isn’t it funny, though, that seven words tell what happened all those years ago? It doesn’t really. It might help if you looked at the line right above mine. It said, “Carol Spess, baptised March 29, 19–.

Same day, same year.

I was seven years old, Daddy was twenty-eight. He’d gone to church some while growing up, but he’d never accepted Christ as his Savior.

When my parents married, Mama was a CHRISTIAN. She had a heart for the Lord that shined so bright, to be around her you nearly needed sunglasses. Make that SONglasses. 😉

Naturally, she took her kids to Sunday School and church and Vacation Bible School and every other time the doors were open. After we moved to C-Town, Daddy started going to church with us all the time.

When we hadn’t been here very long, Roy and Gloria Blizzard, the young new First Christian preacher and his wife, moved in down the street. They got to be really good friends with my folks. They spent time together, laughed together, and often ate together.

I think Dad saw the light of Christ in Mama and Roy and Gloria and the other people in our church, and wanted that for himself.

On that Resurrection Sunday (a loooong time ago) I wanted to be baptised. I wanted Christ to live in me, and I wanted Daddy to be baptised, too. But when I looked up at him that morning, he was hanging on to the pew in front of him, real tight. I wasn’t sure what to do.

So I pushed him. 🙂 He still remembers trying to make up his mind that morning, one way or the other, and hanging tight to that wooden pew, when I gave him a few strong nudges.

You might wonder how an seven-year-old girl could know enough about God to make a decision like that. After all, I hadn’t seen much of life and nothing of the world. I hadn’t had problems I wanted Him to help me through, and I sure didn’t possess a lot of Biblical knowledge.

But I’d seen Jesus. I talked with Him and LOVED Him, and wanted Him to live in me for all my life.

So I nudged Dad and it worked. Daddy and I started up the aisle with Mama right beside us, holding my hand. Funny the things you remember and what you don’t remember. I don’t remember my Easter dress that year or Mom’s or my sisters’. I don’t remember who else was baptised that day, but there were several of us.

I remember Mama’s hand shook, but Daddy’s was rock steady. She’d already accepted Christ, and had been baptised at a young-ish age. Why should she tremble? I wondered.

I don’t remember my voice being childishly high or clear, but it probably was as I made the Good Confession–

“I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and I want Him as my personal savior.”

Mama went to the dressing area and helped me put on a red robe that was a mile to long, but that didn’t matter because when I waded into the baptistery at the front of the church, it floated and didn’t trip me.

Roy, our preacher, was a tall man with jet black hair who talked with a Texas accent. I don’t remember where he was from, just that sometimes his words sounded double jointed.

He gave me a handkerchief to put over my nose and raised one hand, “Susan Caroll Spess, I baptise you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins so that you may receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

“Buried with Him through baptism into His death, (he lowered me under, so there was water noise in my ears) to rise and walk in the newness of life.”

So wish us both a happy Christian birthday. I’d tell you how old we are, spiritually, but I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count.

And my dad? He grew as a Christian and in a few years became a Deacon. Several years after that, he was made an Elder. Because of his and Mama’s witness, his mother, father, at least two of his siblings and the other five of his children (and others in his life) became Christians.

Then at my son’s wedding this past weekend, Dad prayed before the reception that God would bless the food to our nourishment and, more importantly, Brad and Nicole’s life together.

As he prayed, I got a feeling deep inside that even though my baby was married and would never truly be my baby again, everything was going according to God’s plan.

Thank you with all my heart.

Love you, Pops.

PS: All of the beautiful scripture pictures are from Pearls of Grace on Facebook. Thanks!


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Do You Lent?

 The Spess crew, at least my section of it, has never been Lent observers. It’s not something that’s talked about in the Christian Church, unless you’re wearing black and have a problem. No, wait. That’s lint. Never mind.

I’ve heard about the Holy Week preparation, but I’ve never known what it was.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve known a lot of people who wanted to celebrate Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday, they just didn’t go through the Lent part.

So one year, Sister Debbie decided to give up coffee for Lent.

“Do WHAT?” (I always have such a kind way of responding.)

She gave me her sweet nun’s smile. (I wonder what’s going on in her head when she does that.) “I’m giving up coffee for Lent.”

That stopped me. Totally. Lent? Give up something for it? Was it a sin for a Christian to give up something for Lent? No. Probably not.

I blamed it on her friends. She must have a buddy who’d influenced her, which was a shock in itself. Even as a kid, Deb never was one to follow others. Leave it to her to wait until she was full grown, then choose a holy path to follow someone down. 😉

So after a couple of years of observing her observe Lent, I decided to look it up. (Notice I didn’t say I’m going for it.)

The traditional purpose of Lent is the penitential preparation of the believer—through prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving, and self-denial.

Its institutional purpose is heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events of the Passion of Christ on Good Friday, which then culminates in the celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This event, along with its pious customs are observed by Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Anglicans, as well as some Baptists and Mennonites. 

Baptists? I didn’t grow up with very many Catholics or Lutherans, but I’ve had lots of Baptist friends, and never head them speak of Lent. What’s up with that?

Next, I looked up Great Lent. It, apparently, is observed by Orthodox Catholics. Now I have to look up what Orthodox means. Just a minute.

The word orthodox, from Greek orthos (“right”, “true”, “straight”) + doxa (“opinion” or “belief”, related to dokein, “to think”),[1] is generally used to mean the adherence to accepted norms, more specifically to creeds, especially in religion.

When I read about Great Lent, something warmed my heart.

Orthodox Christians are expected to pay closer attention to and increase their private prayer. According to Orthodox theology, when asceticism (fasting, etc) is increased, prayer must be increased also.

Well, that makes sense, doesn’t it? If you’re going through the pain of fasting (as Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness just before He started His ministry) the only reason to do it is to enhance your prayer life.

We had a professor at Bible College who’d prayed and fasted for forty days. I never heard him speak of it, but others did and they shared what he’d done.

I always imagined he took the forty days during the summer, when he wasn’t teaching, to go someplace by himself so, like Jesus, he could fast and pray and be alone with the Lord.

And yes, I could see it in his life. Even though he was never my professor, I enteracted with him on campus and heard him speak in chapel. There really was something different about him.

If I’m reading this right, Lent is the preparation for Holy Week. Not just giving something up, but a time to get closer to the Lord and get ready for Resurrection Sunday.

Anybody? Am I right?

How about you? Do you observe Lent? Do you give something up or fast during that time? I think I’d like to learn more.